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McCleary Peak via Florida Canyon, AZ

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Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson S
4.3 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 11.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,330 feet
Elevation Gain 4,023 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,468 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 33.69
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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12  2015-10-15 rvcarter
12  2015-09-26
Florida Canyon to McCleary and Wrightson
11  2015-09-26
Florida Canyon / Crest Trail
53  2010-08-12 rwstorm
9  2007-03-18 desert_boonie
5  2005-05-20 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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absolutely incredible
by fricknaley

I'm adding this as a separate destination hike involving the Florida Canyon trail because this trail, in my opinion, is the best one in Tucson and because the trip to McCleary peak provides an alternative to the ever-crowded (but nonetheless excellent) Mt. Wrightson. Bag this infrequently visitied summit and I promise you will not see a soul.

I would suggest you refer to the summary of the Florida Canyon trail provided by whereeveriroam in his description of Mt. Wrightson via Florida Canyon trail to the Florida Saddle. His description is excellent and I have nothing to add.

From the wonderful Florida Saddle, hang a right on the Crest Trail towards the Armour Spring Trail. This trail continues along through the wonderful pine forests of the upper reaches of the Santa Ritas. After about 0.3 miles you come to a signed intersection pointing towards the Armour Spring Trail. Take this spur trail for roughly 0.4 miles. Along the way the forest breaks periodically to allow you amazing views down the canyon and far out and over Tucson. This is the first real glimpse of just how far you've About 0.2 miles into this trail there is an unsigned split in the trail - stay to your left here. After a total of about 0.4 miles on the Armour Spring Trail you come to an umarked saddle and the trail swings away to your left. There is a rocky ridgeline to your right and up above lies McCleary peak. Look for a fairly large cairn here a few feet off the trail, adjacent to a large fallen tree. This area has clearly served as a campsite in the past.

Anyway, the cairn here marks the takeoff of the informal rough trail that scratches it's way to McCleary Peak. The trail is not a formal one, but nonetheless it is not that hard to follow. Keep an eye out for cairns and keep on climbing. You can basically climb up to any summit you want or follow the trail all the way out. The views are really the same... absolutely incredible. Enjoy this little known peak, my favorite local hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2005-05-19 fricknaley
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    McCleary Peak via Florida Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This is a great but strenuous hike. The sign at the trail head says 4.7 miles to Florida Saddle, which seems about right - many of these very decorative metal signs are incorrect! We're having a very warm and dry winter this year; this hike's day was cool with thin clouds and hazy sunshine. The route overall was the driest I've ever seen with no overgrowth (unusual for this time of year) so the path was easy to follow. The trail up Florida canyon is nicely varied with steep rocky sections interspersed with flatter and smoother parts. The last mile or so before the saddle switchbacks up a steep slope, and the saddle itself is usually pretty overgrown - but not this time! I'd forgotten (or not realised) that there are two major junctions at the top. The first is Florida Saddle itself, where Florida Canyon, Sawmill and Cave Creek trails meet - there are a couple of obvious signs. About 0.3 miles further up a few switchbacks you get to the junction of Crest and Four Springs trails, which has just one small sign for Armour Spring. We went this way. This part of Four Springs trail is little used and not maintained, so be careful! It's on a steep slope with loose footing. If there's any undergrowth (there often is), the trail can be hard to follow. From Florida Saddle over to the unnamed saddle is about 1 fairly slow mile, due to the poor footing, undergrowth and many deadfalls. This section broadly follows the contour line, with a few switchbacks at the end up to the saddle. From this saddle you can keep going on Four Springs over to Shovel Saddle and down into Madera Canyon (highly recommended!). But this time we hiked over to McCleary Peak. The official gps trace here is good, and the "trail" has had some work done since the last triplog. From the large and obvious cairn on the log at the saddle, the trail starts out pretty clearly, heading over toward the peak. There are occasional cairns, but the trail was fairly obvious from the pruned bushes. The main thing is to stay high on the ridge as much as possible, ignore the opportunities to head off to the side and scramble up the rocks instead. It's a very slow 0.3 miles from the saddle to McCleary peak due to the scrambling and heavy growth. You'll be rewarded with stunning views in all directions at various points, and the peak itself is open and flat. Look for the registry there to leave your mark. We took 8hrs 45min total, slowed somewhat by one hiker with a bad knee and a few leisurely breaks. Total distance was about 12 miles, elevation gain about 4000'.
    McCleary Peak via Florida Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Yesterday, I suffered a very mild heat stress, so today I would take no chances and would re-gear for the heat; big ol' hat, 3 liter Camel, spare 3 liter Camel, 1+ liters in bottles, tossed the survival kit out of my pack and was ready to rip.

    I met up with Roy at 7:45 and we departed. We hit the trail at around 9:00 as I recall and began our upward march. Only a short way in, a mist began to fall, then subside, then repeat... The atmosphere was extremely pleasant and the lighting was perfect for enjoying the views. And what views they are. We had the perfect conditions all the way to the top, or I should say almost to the top :/ Just after Armour Spring, we were so focused on the ground and finding the trail, that we failed to notice the squall that had developed over head. Then with only a few seconds notice, it hit! We quickly dropped pack and geared up for rain, and with the peak only a few hundred yards ahead of us, we stupidly trudged on :? At the peak, it was more wind than rain, so we took a quick photo-op and signed the register before making a hasty retreat. Upon our departure, the rain:wind ratio inverted, then the whole thing just went ^2. I can't speak for Roy, but as for my self, fear was keeping me warm and vertical(or seemingly so). It wasn't until Armour Spring, that the weather gave in and we could assess our situation and it was far less than we had hoped or planned for. ...But aside from that; soaked, cold, numb, hungry, tired and giggling like a couple of drunk teenagers, we made our way back to the TH.

    That was one wild ride!!!

    Thanks Roy for the adventure and for driving down. I'll see you on Friday...
    McCleary Peak via Florida Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I headed back to Wrightson with JJ for the second time this month. We decided on another approach this time. I was not as spry as usual today and was beat several times by the climb.

    McCleary was fun. I got a little off-trail on the way back and regretted it a bit, but the route is generally easy to follow with careful attention. There was water everywhere and nearly perfect temps. Blanco tore it up as usual and we got tacos on the way home.

    I like that Wrightson area. I already have a few more hikes on the mind for that area.

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Tucson take 1-19 south, get off exit 63 (Continental). Head east and then take right onto White House Road. Follow this paved road 5-6 miles to a junction with a large dirt road (Box Canyon Road, FR 62), it'll be on your left. Head on this road about 1/4 mile and look for the signed turn off to Florida Work Center (a.k.a. Santa Rita Experimental Range), this will be FR 62A. Proceed till gate at end of road, parking will be to your left just in front of gate.
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